December 17, 2017

Why your campus should consider a Multicultural Retreat


Lake Minnewaska Trail — Minnewaska State Park, New York.
Photo by Doug Kerr.
Great friendships have started by the lake

A multicultural retreat is a structured activity which allows White and ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) students an opportunity to explore racial and cultural issues in a secluded setting that is free of major distractions.

Participants who generally do not know each other are asked to spend two to three days away from campus eating, rooming and working together. Participants are asked to submerge themselves in learning about ALANA cultures. Because of the time they are required to spend together, participants eventually ‘drop their guard’ and allow their ‘true’ feelings to surface. A seasoned facilitator will not only move this process along, s/he will also create an atmosphere where honest disclosure is expected.

During the retreat participants are able to discuss, debate, and contribute in ways that may help them discover, share, and broaden their awareness of themselves in relationship to the multicultural world at large. Activities, speakers and discussion groups focus on objectives which are designed to ensure that the experience participants are exposed to, challenge their beliefs, confront their values and require some type of follow up action.

A cultural retreat is designed to be informational and educational. Three aspects of culture are presented on each ALANA group that is featured. 1) The cultural contributions-music, dance, art, etc., 2) problems the group faces in contemporary American society, and 3) the group’s U.S. and world history. The intent is to provide participants a context in which to understand the issues impacting a particular ethnic group.

The retreat experience is not designed to be complacent. It is dynamic and at times confrontational. However, as a result of such discourse, a certain bonding often takes place between participants. A sense of community among the participants frequently occurs. This process of permitting oneself to be vulnerable and open to new ideas often gives one an insight that results in increased cultural awareness.

Comments like, “I had no idea…,” are common during and after the retreat. Even the free time serves an important purpose during the retreat because participants are required to spend half of it with someone of a different “racial” group. When you consider the cultural activities, ethnic speakers and the great outdoors, all these things contribute to making the retreat an effective human relations experience.

I’ve witnessed firsthand how retreats have transformed lives and led to long-term friendships. Here’s a letter I received from a participant many years ago. [Read more...]



  1. DO be aware of your own position of privilege, as described by Peggy McIntosh in this article:
  2. DO create, promote, and encourage multicultural/identity awareness programming and activities in your classrooms/residence halls/departments.
  3. DO aspire toward equity: to treat all of your students/residents/colleagues what THEY will perceive as decent and respectful.
  4. DO learn the correct pronunciations of the names of your students/residents/colleagues.
  5. DO ask questions and DO research to learn about communication/lifestyles of your diverse residents.
  6. DO create programming that shows an awareness of the multiple identities embraced by your students/residents/colleagues.
  7. DO take advantage of the many opportunities on and off campus to experience diversity and inclusion.
  8. DO promote inclusivity, awareness, and understanding with words as well as with actions and beliefs!
  9. DO consider diversity as a responsibility as well as an opportunity!
  10. DO understand that this work can be tough, but it can also be quite rewarding! [Read more...]

Financial Diversity, Inclusion, and the Myth of the “Need Blind” College

By Anthony-James Green


If you’re applying to college, and you need financial aid, then you’re probably aware of the concept of “need-blind admissions.”  Colleges don’t look at students’ financial status before deciding whether to admit or reject them, meaning, ostensibly, that financially under-privileged students don’t stand any disadvantages when it comes to college admissions.  Schools can’t reject a student simply because he or she needs financial help.  One would assume that this would level the playing field for students without the financial resources of their more economically advantaged peers.  Unfortunately, this assumption is wrong.

Colleges might not look at your financial needs, but they still care very much about whether or not you’ll be able to pay.  So instead of looking at student finances, they’ve created a system in which the factors for admission are blatant indicators of financial advantage or disadvantage.

When making admissions decisions, colleges look at student SAT and ACT scores, school competitiveness, GPA, essays, and extracurricular activities.  Every single one of these factors is completely linked to the financial success of a student’s parents.

Think of the “dream applicant” in this scenario.  He goes to a competitive prep school with a fantastic GPA, has high SAT scores, and is the captain of the crew team.  What are the chances that this student isn’t extremely financially advantaged?  Slim to none. [Read more...]


This speech was delivered at Edgewood College as part of their ‘Common Read’ program. I was one of four panel members asked to respond to the book: The Other Wes Moore. The book is about two African American males, with the same name and similar backgrounds that grew up in the inner city of Baltimore, Maryland. One became a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison.

Black College students succeeding despite the odds

The Other Wes Moore  did cause me to critically examine the social reality in which many urban blacks are forced to exist and reflect on the serious problems facing American society like poverty, race, crime, and limited opportunity. For me it was never about which Wes Moore succeeded but rather the need to explain the conditions that causes too many Wes Moores to fail.

The author Wes Moore succeeded not because racism has died, but because of a support system that got him through. We must ask ourselves what is it about our system that continuously fails the poor and black males in particular. Is poverty an individual problem or a structural one? Those who believe it’s an individual problem typically blame the other Wes Moore for his fate in life. They’ll say if he wasn’t raised in a single family household; or if he just had more determination or if he would have just done this or that. To be sure all of this carries a grain of truth, but it places the blame for his condition primarily on his shoulders as if external factors bare no blame.

The condition in which both Wes Moore’s found themselves just didn’t happen overnight. I often tell my students that if you want to get at the root causes of contemporary problems (especially involving race), you have to study their historical origins. So I’d like to use my 10-minutes to take a look back and put The Other Wes Moore into a broader historical perspective and perhaps point out some similarities between then and now.

There were at least 3 significant historical periods that had a profound impact on black Americans quest for equality in this country: 1) The Indentured Servitude Period; 2) Reconstruction and 3) the modern Civil Rights Era. [Read more...]

Celebrating Kwanzaa at Luther College by Sheila Radford-Hill

Luther College is a selective, undergraduate liberal arts institution of about 2500 students located in the small northeast Iowa town of Decorah. It is affiliated with the Lutheran Church (ELCA). Each year their Diversity Center sponsors a Kwanzaa celebration. This blog explains why. Sheila Radford-Hill is the Executive Director of the Diversity Center.Sheila Radford-Hill 2010

A few years ago, a colleague questioned why Luther College celebrated Kwanzaa.  I realize that a college with a population of less than 10% African and African American students may seem like an unlikely venue for this event. In fact, when I arrived at Luther ten years ago, the founders of the Luther campus celebration expressed some surprise that Kwanzaa was still thriving despite a decline in black student enrollment. This blog shares why the campus celebrates Kwanzaa and the people responsible for its success. [Read more...]

Persistence of Black Male PhD Recipients by Dr. Adriel A. Hilton

According to U.S. Census Bureau (2004) projections, African American, Hispanic, and Asian American populations are expected to grow rapidly over the next few decades. In fact, those populations will comprise approximately 50% of the total U.S. population by the year 2050. Given this rapid growth of racial/ethnic minority populations, it is important that research document factors that promote retention and persistence for minority students at all levels of the educational pipeline.

[Read more...]